tv Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa NBC May 21, 2017 5:30am-6:01am PDT
♪ i'm robert handa,erica." your host for our show, here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. today, we feature growing up asian in america, and the winners from the art, essay, and video contests. this weekend, i had the honor of being the emcee for the 22nd annual growing up asian in america awards program, held at the asian art museum in san francisco, and we were able to showcase the 50 contest winners. and we will be able to meet and hear from some of those talented youngsters on our show today. we start our show with a look back and forward at growing up asian in america, and spotlight our first winner. joining me right now is audrey yamamoto, the president and executive director of asian pacific fund, the individual and group that are the driving forces behind the growing up asian in america contests.
and also with us is keira zhang, winner in the art category for k through fifth grade. welcome to the show. audrey yamamoto: thank you for having us. robert: good to see you again, keira. audrey, give me an idea here, we're talking about looking back, and you know, again, i had the pleasure of being at the very first growing up asian in america event. tell us in terms of, like, where it was and where it is now. audrey: yeah, sure. so, it actually started back in 1995, so that was shortly after there started to be an asian pacific american heritage month, so we feel like it's one of the longest-standing celebrations of ap heritage month. and since that time, we've received nearly 25,000 different entries from k through 12 students from across the bay area, and awarded more than half a million dollars to the top 1,000 winners across those years. so, we're really excited and proud to have had such a broad reach and impact all across the bay area. it's really been a wonderful way for kids to be able to express themselves, reflect on their heritage as part of apa heritage
month, but also showcase their amazing creativity. there's just incredible artwork that we receive every year, incredible essays and videos that are wonderful to be able to share with a broader audience. robert: interesting for me too is watching the evolution of sort of the depth of what they talk about. i remember some of the early contests, it was just almost about just being asian, and how unique that was, or how--and trying to deal with that. these essays, these videos, they're political, they're social commentary. these kids now have a real opinion about things, huh? audrey: yeah, and i think that is really shaped by the theme. you know, this year, in honor and celebration of kamala harris being the first indian american elected to the us senate, the theme was letter to the senator. and so, because of that, and now more than ever, we felt like it was really important for our youth to be able to voice their thoughts, opinions, and concerns about what's going on in the world. so, that came out loud and clear, and as you heard, very eloquently and very--in a way that's very powerful and inspiring in terms of what matters to them and what's on their mind.
robert: yes, and one of those was keira. keira, congratulations again for being a winner. keira zhang: thank you. robert: now, she came up with an artistic piece called "immigrants are the backbone of america," so let's take a quick look at it so that you can tell us a little bit about what inspired you. tell me how you came up with this idea and what the message is here. keira: the message is that immigrants are an important part of america, and it's basically like a representation that immigrants are important. robert: and you feel a lot of pride coming from that kind of background? keira: yeah. robert: what about in terms of the different things that you decided to use as symbols? why did you choose these? what are some of the things that we're seeing here? keira: because i did the american flag as, like, america and also the states. then i added people of different ethnic groups onto my drawing. robert: do you feel as though--you know, does it feel good to be able to put across this message to people?
keira: yeah. robert: why? keira: because i have thought about donald trump's election and his immigration policy. robert: wow. you know, that's the kind of answer you don't really necessarily expect. that kind of shows, in a way, what's so great about this contest, isn't it? audrey: yeah, i think we're really surprised to hear such sort of thoughtful and sophisticated answers from so many of our youth in terms of being concerned about what's going on in terms of immigration and how immigrants are being treated. we heard a lot about the wall being built and concerns around that, concerns about global warming, and sort of a deep understanding of the drivers behind that. so, it's really wonderful to see what we think are the future leaders of our country being able to express themselves in this way, on this platform. robert: yeah, we acknowledged and complimented the parents of all the winners because they're obviously guiding their youngsters into being able to think that way and think for themselves. do you feel as though you, at your age, that you really have a real sense of what's going on
in the world? keira: yes, because we had--at my school, we had a pbo on the election. robert: what did you think about what happened? did it disappoint you a little bit? keira: yeah, because we had a class election, and basically all of the class voted on hillary clinton. robert: and i think it's really great, we were saying how the parents let you--you and your sister are very involved in a lot of different things, huh? what are some of the things that you do now? music? keira: i do piano, gymnastics, and arts. robert: yes. that's kind of an important thing is that we noticed that a lot of the people in the contest are very well-rounded individuals, huh? audrey: yeah, i think for a lot of them, this is just one opportunity to showcase what area that they're interested in, whether that's writing, making videos, or creating amazing artwork. so, it's a great way for them to showcase just one of many talents and interests. robert: right. and real quickly, how do people get involved who want to get
involved in this as they see these winners come on the show? audrey: yeah, they're welcome to reach out to us through our website, firstname.lastname@example.org. we're always looking for volunteer screeners. you know, we received over 500 entries this year, so we need screeners to help narrow down that pool. we look for judges to also volunteer. and then of course at the day of the event at the asian art museum, it's always wonderful to have volunteers involved at that level as well. robert: all right. audrey, thanks again for being here. keira, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and your winning piece for us. keira: thank you. robert: all right. well, coming up next, more winners from the art category from our growing up asian in america event. peter ma: so, the first confliction is the travel ban. personally, i don't think it's fair because the travel ban bans six countries, bans all citizens from six countries.
joining me right now is abigail cheng, the art winner in the sixth through eighth grade category. and charlene tonai din, who came out on top of the 9th through 12th grade contest. thank you both for being here. abigail cheng: thank you. charlene tonai din: thank you. robert: abigail, give me an idea, first of all, in terms of being a part of the contest. what did it mean to you to be able to kind of express yourself this way? abigail: well, being asian-american is a big part of my identity. and it's important to celebrate and stay connected to that part. robert: a lot of pride in that identity. abigail: yes. robert: well, all right. let's take a look at the winning picture that you drew. and tell us a little bit about the title as well as what inspired you. abigail: the title of my art piece was "the hunger among us," and it's about food insecurity. and i was inspired because while i was thinking about what i was going to draw, earth day preparation was going on at my school. and my earth day--my school's earth day theme is,
the future of food. and so, one day, i learned about the statistic that one out of four children in california experience food insecurity, and that was, like, really astonishing to me. so, i decided to depict that in the drawing. robert: wow. and, so when you kind of chose these symbols, what were you thinking of? what were you trying to kind of connect? abigail: well, i chose the school setting because it ties back to the title of my piece, "the hunger among us," because at school, you know all the kids, but you can't really know what's going on in their heads all the time. so, you don't really know who that one person out of the four children in california is. robert: wow, that's very good. charlene, give me an idea here. you know, i know you come from a fairly active family, and you are active yourself. what, in terms of being in this contest, what were some of the things that maybe surprised you a little bit about what was coming out as you were coming up with your entry? charlene: well, i talked to some of my friends and family
and teachers, and it was really nice to hear what they-- what they thought were the opposing issues. and it was really enlightening for me to know that so many people are aware and want to make a difference. robert: yeah, there are a lot of issues to choose from. let's take a look at your winning entry. and tell us a little bit about the title here, and the message behind it. charlene: so, the title is "never forget, never repeat." and i wanted to highlight that japanese-american incarceration, an event that my great-grandparents and grandparents went through, is very similar to the things that are happening today. so, there's police raids taking away parents from their families, trump's proposed wall and ban, and the dakota access pipeline. so, i thought those were some of the main issues that i wanted to cover. robert: you know, for a lot of people at the event, they were very impressed because it's young people that they want to make sure grasp the significance of what happened in history.
you know, we sort of expect the older generations to understand and want people to remember it, but they're not always sure that the young people will grasp it and appreciate it. so, that's why that was a very big thing. are you influenced a lot by your parents' sort of activism? charlene: yeah, i am. they both teach me a lot and tell me--like, they influence my political views as well as how i take in the world, and yeah. robert: what do you think you'll do in the future? charlene: i'm not sure. robert: yeah, do you think you'll be community active? charlene: i hope so. robert: yeah. how about you, abigail? what are your thoughts in terms of taking what you're learning, and how you're evolving, and what you want to do in the future? abigail: well, my dream job would be to be an architect 'cause i really like designing things, and then maybe bring some cool, like, ideas into the houses or other sculptures that i build that represent things. robert: and of course, one thing too is that people who are successful in life, they get to have more of an impact on
the community too, huh? you get to pick an issue that you like and you get to have a little bit more influence on them, huh? yeah. are you--come from a family, does your family, are they pretty active in these kind of things? or are you building up their awareness? abigail: it's a little bit of both, i think. robert: both, yeah. what's your main interest right now in terms of your activities? abigail: i really like doing art class and rock climbing. robert: oh, really? you're very physical then, huh? abigail: yeah. robert: charlene, give me an idea here in terms of this kind of contest. have you thought about, like for example, entering in some of the other categories? charlene: i have. robert: yeah? what were some of the other ones that you considered, and why did you choose the one you did? charlene: i like visual things, so probably the video contest. but i chose art 'cause i've always loved drawing, and it's, like, the easiest way for me to express myself. robert: yeah. and one thing that you both did well is that you express what you drew very well, even though there's actually a separate
essay type category. and yet, you know, one of the things that this does is it makes you have to kind of express what your message is, huh? is that a difficult thing for you, or did you enjoy that part of it? abigail: i enjoyed that part of it because i'd already chosen doing the school setting, and so i just--to include words, i put them on the white board so the statistic could be very clear, and then i displayed the statistic visually with the one out of four children in the table. robert: all right, good. do you think that you might enter the contest in some other category now? abigail: yes, i think that next year, maybe i would want to do video too. robert: oh, very good. charlene, what would you want people to think about who haven't entered the contest, but are watching you talk about it? what do you think is the thing that you get the most out of it as a young person? charlene: i think, yeah, like i said before, talking to friends, it encourages the conversation between people, and like coming out with an end result is really, really satisfying. robert: great.
charlene, abigail, thank you very much for being here. congratulations on winning. charlene: thank you. robert: well, next up, more winners, this time in the essay and video categories, so stay with us. kiana aguilar: donald trump is our new president, and that makes me worry about my friends. i am worried because i have lots of mexican and muslim friends, and it seems like he doesn't respect them.
the growing up asian in america contest. we feature some of our essay and video awards winners. now, here in our studio first is manasa ayyala to talk about her essay. and also with us is brian chou, the video winner. welcome to the show. manasa ayyala: thank you. robert: now, manasa, give me an idea in terms of, like, what it was like for you to enter this contest. did you learn a lot about yourself this way? manasa: i did. i learned a lot about where i came from. and i also grew up in different parts of california, and i learned that, like, expressing my thoughts through writing is a great way for me to talk about other things.
robert: great, i'm really glad we provided you with a forum to do that. if you would, can you read us some of your essay? tell us what the title is, and read some of it for us. manasa: i titled my essay "a letter of hopes." "dear mrs. harris, we live in a country of creativity. we live in a country where people can speak. we live in a country where ideas spark into actions. this country continues to improve each day, but people still face discrimination. as an 8-year-old girl living in los angeles, i will always remember being embarrassed about my culture. i continually asked my parents why i was so different, why my eyes were brown instead of blue, and why my skin was darker than others. and i learned to face discrimination. it's okay to be different." robert: that's great. tell me something, did it come easily to you to put down those thoughts? or was it--did you have to kind of think about not only in terms of what you wanted to say, but how you were going to say it? manasa: i did have to think a little bit, but it was quite easy. robert: yeah, that's great. brian, give me an idea here, first of all, for you, how was it entering this contest? and did you learn something about yourself this way?
brian chou: well, i think that i learned more about my friends and kind of my community than about myself, which i guess is kind about myself in a way. see, my video is about kind of extra-curricular activities that we do in our schools. so, as i was asking my friends, who are in this video, what kind of things they do outside of schools, i realized what kind of diverse friend group that i'm a part of, and also kind of the diversity that i see at my school that is not just ethnic diversity, but kind of lots of thought processes and the things that people are interested in, so. robert: that's very good. now, of course, sometimes reaching out isn't as common as people think in terms of reaching out to people and trying to find out more about them. let's take a look at your video, your winning video, and then we'll talk about it, okay? brian: yeah. ♪ female: dear senator, i am an artist, and i wish we had more funding for art programs at school.
male: dear senator, i am a clarinet player in band, and i wish that our band had more money to rent out instruments to low-income students. male: dear senator, i am part of the gay/straight alliance at school, and i wish that our school offered more support for lgbtq students. female: dear senator, i help out at my family's restaurant, and i wish that school regulations allow for more flexibility with work hours. brian: dear senator, we are a diverse group of friends, and we ask that you influence our schools to protect the extra-curricular interests of all kinds of students, and ensure equal opportunities for all. ♪ robert: brian, i have to say that i was very impressed with the kind of the feel, you know what i mean? something that's not quite as easy to kind of analyze, just a feel that came across in that video.
was it difficult to get your friends to open up and talk about some of the things that they were talking about? brian: not at all, they all were willing to be in my video when i asked. robert: yeah. why is that, do you think? i'd think a lot of people might feel like they might be a little bit reluctant. why are your friends so forthcoming? brian: i think it's because we're all willing to share kind of a part of our lives with each other, so that's why. robert: you know, that reminds me of something that you said because i think a lot of minorities do know that feeling of, at one time, feeling embarrassed about being minorities and stuff. and when you watch people talking so openly about those kind of things, that was kind of the revelation that you had, right? manasa: yeah. robert: and what does that feel like when you start to talk about things that, at one point, you were sort of bearing? manasa: it makes me feel a lot better because i'm able to express myself rather than having to keep it in. robert: what was the maybe something that you expressed about yourself that maybe led to the biggest breakthrough for you in terms of finding out about yourself or thinking about yourself? manasa: talking about how i was--i always felt different
than others, but i'm really not. robert: yeah. i know at the event, i talked about the fact that when i went to japan, i was looking forward to being one of a lot of japanese, and i kind of found out that it wasn't really that great a feeling to suddenly not have that individuality that i was used to here, you know, that diversity kind of gives you. brian, what do you want to do with your talents and your skills? what would you like to do? brian: i don't know, the future is open for me, i guess. robert: is media or video and that kind of thing going to be a part of it, do you think, or certainly maybe a community perspective? brian: probably. depends on where i go and what i do. robert: you still got plenty of time, though, huh? brian: yeah, i do. robert: it's nice to be young. how about for you? manasa: i want to be in the stem field because also there, not a lot of girls are in it, yeah. robert: how about are your friends--we were talking about him and his friends. are your friends basically like you in terms of,
like, being, you know, aware and being kind of outspoken? manasa: yeah, they are. but i'd say we're similar, but kind of different in our own ways. robert: yeah, yeah. did your project interest them quite a bit? manasa: yeah, it did. robert: all right. brian, what would you want to encourage people to do if they haven't entered this contest and they hear you guys talking about it? what do you think is the thing that you get out of it the most? brian: i think the most important thing is kind of reaching out to your community and looking at people who are like you to see if your-- kind of your experiences have been similar. i think that's the most important thing about this contest is that it kind of shows that all of our experiences are similar in some ways, and that we are not alone where we live. robert: congratulations to both of you. you expressed yourselves really well, thank you. both: thank you. robert: well, coming up next, more highlights from the growing up asian in america awards ceremony. lilly loghmani: as someone who is half-chinese, half-iranian, and all-american, i believe our diversity is the source of our strength, and should be cherished,
proudly caring for northern california, of our other winners. thanks for watching. andy liu: hi, everyone. i'm andy liu, i'm 7 years old, and in the first grade. i was inspired by giving everyone equal education. without good education, people will not get a job. aubrey ilasco: when i have dumplings for lunch, people back away from me and tell me that my dumplings smell gross. they hold their noses, and i start to feel weird inside. i don't understand why i feel weird when i am american like them. i didn't really want--i didn't really understand this until i watched "fresh off the boat" on tv. the story i can relate to is when eddie huang, the main character, was embarrassed to bring his chinese lunch to school because people might make fun of him. he wanted white food. tiffany tran: dear senator, kamala harris, my name is tiffany tran, and i am an eighth grader
from east side san jose. as an east side san jose student, i have noticed that our high schools are in need of more programs, technology, actively involved teachers, and opportunities for our students. when my dad came to america as a vietnam war refugee, his family of 12 knew no english. male: [speaking foreign language] tiffany: my parents' asian refugee struggles has taught me the importance of education. it will take time to achieve academically competitive schools throughout the district, but for now, all students should be able to easily transfer to neighboring high schools that are in line with their academic goals. my post code should not limit my high school options. the financial state of the district i was raised in should not define my future. by focusing on academic programs, east side san jose will produce more successful individuals and productive members of a great bay area community. sincerely, tiffany tran. laura shieh: on january 29, senator harris tweeted that democracy is not a spectator sport.
what that means is that those of us who have a vested interest in the future of america have to put aside the popcorn, stand up for what is right, stop the internet trolling, and ultimately take a stance. i was really worried about how my message came across because i didn't want to seem like i was being very pedantic. i didn't want to be like, "oh, i want to dictate how people should think," because i do believe that even the people whose views probably contradict mine, i'm sure there are very many--
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♪ the story that came out as reported is false. >> no, no, next question. >> i think it's a positive thing for the american people. >> it's a by-product of ailes' legacy. good morning, welcome to "sunday today." i'm willie geist. another busy sunday with president trump in saudi arabia, preparing shortly to make his first speech abroad amidst the breaking news that north korea has fired yet another ballistic missile this morning. we've got a live report. the president's address billed as a